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Preparing a large prepop

Problem

You need to prepop a large number of data fields. You want to simplify the task and reduce the risk of human error.

Solution

Use cwprepop.cgi to create a template of the questions to include in your .scw file based on the data to prepop.

Discussion

Let's say you received a data file of administrative data that need to be included in a survey data base — maybe to recall some administrative values in the questionnaire or to produce an integrated data base at the end of the data collection to ease the statistical analysis. There are dozens (or hundreds!) of data fields, some open-ended, some simply categorised. There are alphanumeric fields and numeric fields, and among the latter, there are integer fields and real values. What a mess! It is going to take hours to craft the CallWeb questions to properly prepop all of these data, and there is a clear risk that some data will be given an incorrect data type.

Call cwprepop.cgi to the rescue. From the integrated module (cw.cgi), cwprepop.cgi can be instructed to "create an scw from a tab-delimited". Here is what you have to do:

  • insert a line at the very top of the data file and add the name of the fields for each column; make sure to name open-ended parts where the data contain information other than integers;
  • save the data as a tab-delimited file if it is not already in this format; from Excel, this is as simple as copying the whole sheet, and pasting it in a text editor;
  • upload the tab-delimited file to the CallWeb project directory;
  • call cwprepop.cgi with the "create an scw from a tab-delimited" option selected and using the tab-delimited file selected in the drop-down list.

Here is what CallWeb will do:

  • determine whether the data are numeric or alphanumeric;
  • calculate the width of the prepop fields and the number of decimals for real numbers;
  • validate the data in close-ended parts; they must be integers;
  • create an .scw file containing the definitions of questions required to read the data and to export them to optimal widths;
  • name the .scw file based on the tab-delimited file name and leave it in the project directory;
  • print a tabular report indicating which fields were defined, using which data type and which width.

Review the .scw file that is produced to make sure that CallWeb's assumptions and observations are reasonable in your own situation.

   

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